"Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. We are amused at beholding the costume of Henry VIII, or Queen Elizabeth, as much as if it was that of the King and Queen of the Cannibal Islands...The childish and savage taste of men and women for new patterns keeps how many shaking and squinting through kaleidoscopes that they may discover the particular figure which this generation requires today. The manufacturers have learned that this taste is merely whimsical. Of two patterns which differ only by a few threads more or less of a particular color, the one will be sold readily, the other lie on the shelf, though it frequently happens that after the lapse of a season the latter becomes the most fashionable."
- Henry David Thoreau: Walden
With one pair of Patiala Pants a girl can get 2 decent looking dresses stitched. In an era where every girl and her aunty are happy to struggle to get into some sort of tight jeans, one wonders how there still is currency for them blooming Patiala Pants. The world is full of contradictions. If there is a sight worse than a South Indian girl in ill-fitting Salwar Kameezes it is the sight of a girl in Patiala Pants. I spotted a girl in the pillion seat of a motorbike in Patiala Pants (the girl was in the said attire, not the motorbike) and it looked like two hot-air balloons scraping the roads of Bangalore.
The Patiala Pants for girls in reality are spiritual sisters and direct descendents of what were called baggy pants in the 90s. For the better or for worse - mostly for worse, movies have always shaped the fashion trends of a generation. In the late 80s during the ripe years of my adolescence, the sight of boys in 'Friend' caps was commonplace and then came fellas walking around in streets with only one half of their shirts tucked in – giving an impression that they are running to attend some enterprises of great pith and moment. As recently as a week back I spotted a fellow still living in the mid to late 90s. During the same period came a movie named ‘Kadalan’ featuring the dancing sensation Prabhu Deva which as far as I am concerned exploded the cult of Baggy Pants. Today look at a picture of yours with your male friends from college and you will see the unpleasant sight of all of you lined up in Baggy Pants. In those forgettable times, if you were to see a girl on the street in those then famous Baggy Pants, you would have thought she was empty in her top rack. Today, the same Baggy Pants after rightly losing favour among guys have morphed themselves into the abomination called Patiala Pants - thanks mostly to Kareena Kapoor in 'Jab We Met'.
A friend of mine shared a bit of trivia that the Patiala Pants were also called Harem Pants. The name sprang the picture of Alif-Laila/Arabian Nights in my minds eye. A girl sitting on a floor in Patiala Pants could be confused with her actually sitting on an upturned umbrella. A trip to India could inspire Rihanna to come out with her next hit single ‘Over the Umbrella’ or if Wodehouse was around, he would have written his companion piece to 'Young Men in Spats', 'Young Women in Pats'. To sum it all up, I would refuse to be found dead in a ditch with a girl in Patiala Pants.